Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/826

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velopment, they will, when inoculated with virulent virus, suffer no evil effects, or only effects of a passing character. In fact, they no longer die from the mortal virus, and, for a time sufficiently long, which in some cases may exceed a year, chicken-cholera can not touch them, especially under the ordinary conditions of contagion which exist in fowl-houses. At this critical point of our manipulation—that is to say, in this interval of time which we have placed between two cultures, and which causes the attenuation—what occurs? I shall show you that, in this interval, the agent which intervenes is the oxygen of the air. Nothing more easily admits of proof. Let us produce a culture in a tube containing very little air, and close this tube with an enameler's lamp. The microbe, in developing itself, will speedily take all the oxygen of the tube and of the liquid, after which it will be quite free from contact with oxygen. In this case, it does not appear that the microbe becomes appreciably attenuated, even after a great lapse of time. The oxygen of the air, then, would seem to be a possible modifying agent of the virulence of the microbe of chicken-cholera—that is to say, it may modify more or less the facility of its development in the body of animals. May we not be here in presence of a general law applicable to all kinds of virus? What benefits may not be the result? We may hope to discover in this way the vaccine of all virulent diseases; and what is more natural than to begin our investigation of the vaccine of what we, in French, call charbon; what you, in England, call splenic fever; and what, in Russia, is known as the Siberian pest; and, in Germany, as the Milzbrand? In this new investigation I have had the assistance of two devoted young savants—MM. Chamberland and Roux. At the outset we were met by a difficulty. Among the inferior organisms, all do not resolve themselves into those corpuscle-germs which I was the first to point out as one of the forms of their possible development. Many infectious microbes do not resolve themselves, in their cultures, into corpuscle germs. Such is equally the case with beer-yeast, which we do not see develop itself usually in breweries, for instance, except by a sort of scissiparity. One cell makes two or more, which form themselves in wreaths; the cells become detached, and the process recommences. In these cells real germs are not usually seen. The microbe of chicken cholera and many others behave in this way, so much so that the cultures of this microbe, although they may last for months without losing their power of fresh cultivation, perish finally like beer-yeast which has exhausted all its aliments. The anthracoid microbe in artificial cultures behaves very differently. In the blood of animals, as in cultures, it is found in translucid filaments more or less segmented. This blood or these cultures freely exposed to air, instead of continuing according to the first mode of generation, show, at the end of forty-eight hours, corpuscle-germs distributed in series more or less regular along the filaments. All around these corpuscles matter is absorbed, as I have